A Vascular Access Coordinator Improves the Prevalent Fistula Rate

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services set the prevalent arteriovenous fistula (AVF) rate of 66% as a national standard. To test the hypothesis that the use of a clinical vascular access coordinator could increase the rate of AVF in a large Nephrology group practice, we implemented an aggressive, multidisciplinary vascular access improvement program led by a trained vascular access coordinator (VAC). In early 2009, we established protocols, approved by all physicians, for the care of vascular access and implemented by a nurse VAC. We retrospectively reviewed Network vascular access data reports from January 2008 through December 2010. The data show that after the implementation of a comprehensive access program led by a VAC, the prevalent AVF rate increased from 50% to 65%. The number of grafts decreased while the percentage of dialysis catheters used for more than 90 days was cut in half. These data suggest that despite an unchanged catheter rate at dialysis initiation, the use of a VAC implementing an aggressive, multidisciplinary access program can significantly increase the AVF rate while decreasing grafts and prevalent catheter use.

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